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APRIL 2018

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PORTFOLIO A Closer Look at Novozymes' New Yeast Platform Page 14

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VOLUME 24 ISSUE 4

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EDITORIAL President & Editor in Chief Tom Bryan tbryan@bbiinternational.com Managing Editor Lisa Gibson lgibson@bbiinternational.com Associate Editor Tim Albrecht talbrecht@bbiinternational.com Copy Editor Jan Tellmann jtellmann@bbiinternational.com

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CONTENTS

APRIL 2018 VOLUME 24

DEPARTMENTS 4

AD INDEX

6

EDITOR'S NOTE

8

VIEW FROM THE HILL

FEATURES PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT

New Expectations

Novozymes enters yeast market with Innova Drive By Lisa Gibson

Spring Swing By Tom Bryan

Ethanol Education Begins in the Classroom By Bob Dinneen

9

EVENTS CALENDAR

10

GLOBAL SCENE

11

ISSUE 4

14

NOVOZYMES

ASSET MANAGEMENT

The Integrity Initiative

Active, preventative maintenance protects against equipment failure By Tim Albrecht

Thoughts on Brazil’s Temporary Tariff-Rate Quota for Ethanol By Leticia Phillips

CLEARING THE AIR

Regulatory Fixes Will Open the Market to Ethanol Quickly By Adam Gustafson

12

BUSINESS BRIEFS

38

MARKETPLACE

22

FILE PHOTO

EQUIPMENT

Biting the Bullet on Major Replacements

Standard 10-year inspections reveal deteriorating assets By Susanne Retka Schill

28

FILE PHOTO

CLEANING TECHNOLOGIES

Cleanliness is Quality

Emptying, cleaning silos ensures efficient materials use By Tim Albrecht

ON THE COVER

Sarah Elliott, Novozymes senior research associate, and Hamid Rismani, senior scientist, conduct a yeast fermentation performance evaluation. PHOTO: NOVOZYMES

34

FILE PHOTO BBI INTERNATIONAL

Ethanol Producer Magazine: (USPS No. 023-974) April 2018, Vol. 24, Issue 4. Ethanol Producer Magazine is published monthly by BBI International. Principal Office: 308 Second Ave. N., Suite 304, Grand Forks, ND 58203. Periodicals Postage Paid at Grand Forks, North Dakota and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Ethanol Producer Magazine/Subscriptions, 308 Second Ave. N., Suite 304, Grand Forks, North Dakota 58203.

ETHANOLPRODUCER.COM | 5


EDITOR'S NOTE

Spring Swing Each April, Ethanol Producer Magazine focuses on the errands of spring and the busywork our industry makes of preparing for its summer stretch. With the Corn Belt shedding winter’s last blows — like that early Tom Bryan

President & Editor in Chief tbryan@bbiinternational.com

March blizzard — we are called to tasks that need doing, now, before the sun shines hot. For many producers, April is a time of planned maintenance: cleaning, inspecting and repairing. For some, it’s a time to break ground on new projects, roll out operational changes and test new products. Here at EPM, early spring-to-late summer is our busy season. With our latest plant map on the press and the preliminary agenda for the 2018 International Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo complete, our second-quarter push is underway with this issue’s focus on cleaning, maintenance and asset management. First, however, we profile a leading global enzyme supplier’s leap into genetically-modified yeast production. As we report in “New Expectations,” on page 14, these new yeasts are increasingly efficient, stress tolerant and versatile. Our focus on maintenance begins with “Integrity Initiative,” on page 22, which introduces readers to the practice of asset integrity management. The story explains how producers are using technology and data, from ultrasonic monitoring to multi-plant benchmarking, to predict and plan for the effective lifespan of ethanol plant equipment. Then, in “Biting the Bullet on Major Replacements,” on page 28, we dive deeper into asset management with a look at how America’s maturing fleet of ethanol plants — many of them a decade or more in age— will be increasingly prone to major equipment failures if proactive testing, protection and life-extension measures aren’t taken. The story identifies specific equipment and critical systems that are proving susceptible to failure under the scrutiny of 10-year inspections. Finally, we examine bin maintenance in “Cleanliness is Quality,” on page 34. The story explains how and why outsourced bin cleaning, coupled with efficient material removal technologies and good maintenance, is an indisputable best practice in ethanol plant safety, efficiency and quality control.

FOR INDUSTRY NEWS: WWW.ETHANOLPRODUCER.COM OR FOLLOW US: 6 | ETHANOL PRODUCER MAGAZINE | APRIL 2018

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VIEW FROM THE HILL

Ethanol Education Begins in the Classroom By Bob Dinneen

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day.

Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” — Chinese proverb I’m a big proponent of education, as it’s the foundation of our society. (And yes, I’d say that even if I weren’t married to a teacher). Based on that notion, the Renewable Fuels Association recently developed an Ethanol in the Classroom course, providing a fun and interactive way for students to learn about the renewable fuel. Why? Because one is never too young to learn about ethanol’s numerous benefits. The e-learning program is broken down into three levels: third through fifth grades, sixth through eighth grades, and ninth through 12th grades. After selecting the appropriate level, students can choose a vehicle that runs on ethanol and then navigate through four stops. The journey begins with a quick stop at the fuel station where they fill their vehicle with ethanol-blended fuel. While there, students will learn more about ethanol. At Stop 2, students take a scenic drive through the rolling hills and forest to learn more about the environmental benefits of ethanol. At Stop 3, students take a drive through the rural farmlands to learn more about its economic impact. At Stop 4, students learn more about ethanol’s uses. At each stop, students learn complete activities to see how much they have learned. Once completed, students are congratulated for their achievements and earn an Ethanol Advocate badge.

8 | ETHANOL PRODUCER MAGAZINE | APRIL 2018

Students learn how ethanol is made, how it is used to power boats, motorcycles, cars, trucks and lawnmowers, the history of the fuel, and more. For instance, did you know that in 1908, Henry Ford produced a Model T that was designed to be a flex-fuel vehicle, able to run on ethanol, gasoline or a combination of the two? Or that in 2012, EPA approved the use of E15 in all 2001 and later model year vehicles? Learn all that and more in the Ethanol in the Classroom course. It’s a fun platform for children and young adults to learn about ethanol’s numerous benefits. Today’s children are tomorrow’s drivers. Education is key and we want to make sure everyone, young and old, knows about the environmental, economic and energy security aspects of renewable fuels like ethanol. Besides, wouldn’t it be nice to know the next generation of drivers not only will recognize ethanol at the gasoline pump, but likely will be inclined to refuel using the clean, renewable fuel? That’s a future I think we can all support. For more information, visit www.ethanolrfa.org. Author: Bob Dinneen President and CEO Renewable Fuels Association 202.289.3835 bobd@ethanolrfa.org


EVENTS CALENDAR

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2018 Advanced Biofuels Conference June 11-13, 2018 CenturyLink Center Omaha Omaha, Nebraska Colocated with the International Fuel Ethanol Workshop, the Advanced Biofuels Conference is tailored for industry professionals engaged in producing, developing and deploying advanced biofuels, including cellulosic ethanol, biobased platform chemicals, polymers and other renewable molecules that have the potential to meet or exceed the performance of petroleum-derived products. 866-746-8385 www.advancedbiofuelsconference.com

ACE Conference August 15-17, 2018 Renaissance Depot Hotel Minneapolis, Minnesota

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The ACE Conference is a must-attend event for industry leadership. Relaying timely updates on public policy, market development, board of director training, and much more, this event combines the detail of high-level training course with all the fun of a family reunion. 605-334-3381 www.ethanol.org/events/conference

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Contact us today for more information service@bbiinternational.com or 866-746-8385. ETHANOLPRODUCER.COM | 9


GLOBAL SCENE

Thoughts on Brazil’s Temporary Tariff-Rate Quota for Ethanol

By Leticia Phillips

As the world’s largest ethanol producers, the U.S. and Brazil enjoy the benefits of trading biofuels. Our

two countries have worked together for many years to build a global biofuels market that provides clean, affordable and sustainable solutions to our planet’s growing energy needs. That’s why many observers were surprised last year when Brazil imposed a limit on duty free ethanol imports. With the tariff-rate quota (TRQ) policy in place since September, let’s take a closer look at this temporary solution to what UNICA hopes will be a temporary problem.

The Context

China and Europe recently closed their biofuel markets, making Brazil the only major market that was open to receive excess ethanol supplies. Because of this domino effect, ethanol imports to Brazil skyrocketed in 2017. Brazil received triple the amount of foreign ethanol last year than it did in 2016 and five times more than 2015 imports. Long term, UNICA wants to address this challenge by removing trade barriers and working with other international leaders to expand free trade of biofuels. But in the short term, Brazil’s government needed to act for two reasons: • Environmental: Brazil intends to fulfill its commitments made under the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement and had to safeguard against displacing lower-carbon fuels with higher-carbon fuels. • Economic: The Brazilian sugarcane sector generates nearly 1 million direct jobs and is still recovering from a crippling financial crisis during which approximately 20 percent of sugarcane mills closed.

A Fair Compromise

As Brazilian officials mulled options for how best to respond, UNICA worked to moderate extreme positions and produce a fair compromise. We advocated—and the Brazilian government adopted—a temporary response that still allows a large volume of duty-free exports into Brazil. Up to 158.5 million gallons of foreign ethanol can still enter Brazil annually without paying any import tax. For two years starting last September, volumes above that amount will pay a 20 percent tax.

But there is no limit on the total volume of foreign ethanol that can be exported to Brazil. The annual duty-free limit of 158.5 million gallons equals Brazil’s average annual ethanol imports from 2014 to 2016. In practice, the TRQ maintains what was the status quo before the 2017 spike, while protecting Brazil’s environment and economy from such an unwelcome surge generated by other closed markets. UNICA views this temporary response as a reasonable compromise that moderates what would have been harsher alternatives, such as imposing a 20 percent import tax on all ethanol as allowed by Mercosur policy. The duty-free limit resets quarterly, and so far, the TRQ system appears to be working as intended. During the first three months under the new policy (September to November 2017), Brazil imported the maximum 39.6 million gallons allowed to enter duty free each quarter. An additional 26.7 million gallons also entered the country during that time, with a 20 percent import tax.

What’s Next

UNICA remains committed to removing trade barriers and working together with other biofuel leaders toward our ultimate goal of a global market for clean, renewable fuels. For starters, we will continue to collaborate with our allies and competitors on opening Asian markets, which should generate billions of gallons of new demand. Opening the closed U.S. market for sugar also would help. While our American friends tend to view sugar and ethanol policy as unrelated issues, the lack of open trading partners for sugar directly pressures sugarcane ethanol producers in Brazil, especially those in the northeast. This region is economically underdeveloped but politically influential in the capital city of Brasilia. Producers in the northeast were some of the loudest voices calling for a tariff on imported ethanol and would most directly benefit from access to larger sugar quotas on the international market. Finally, our organization is optimistic that RenovaBio—a new program in Brazil modeled on both the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard and California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard—will be a game changer. By providing more predictability for investors and incentives for technological innovation, RenovaBio should stabilize Brazil’s sugarcane sector and benefit global biofuels players. Author: Leticia Phillips North American Representative Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association, UNICA 202.506.5299 leticia@unica.com.br

10 | ETHANOL PRODUCER MAGAZINE | APRIL 2018


CLEARING THE AIR

Regulatory Fixes Will Open the Market to Ethanol Quickly By Adam Gustafson

Ethanol policy chatter in Washington, D.C., has been dominated lately by complaints about the price of RINs—the renewable identification numbers EPA uses to verify compliance with the Renewable Fuel Standard. Independent refiners that do not blend ethanol

into their own fuel have to purchase RINs from blenders who do, and the refiners complain that the costs are too high. In response, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, has proposed capping the price of RINs. And one refinery, Philadelphia Energy Solutions, even asked a court to discharge its RIN obligations in bankruptcy. Such short-term fixes to high RIN prices ignore their underlying cause—EPA’s artificial constraints on the volume of ethanol that can be blended into the nation’s fuel supply. Basic rules of supply and demand hold that increasing the volume of E15 and higher blends (and thereby increasing the supply of RINs) would lower RIN prices. EPA could solve both problems simultaneously—removing anticompetitive regulatory barriers to ethanol and lowering RIN prices. And it could do this under its existing statutory authority, without any need for new legislation. This is an important consideration, because Congress shows little appetite for sweeping reforms of the RFS. First, EPA should reinterpret a law governing Reid vapor pressure—a measure of fuel volatility—to apply the same standard to regular E10 gasoline and higher ethanol blends. Adding more ethanol to E10 actually lowers volatility (and thus reduces ozone formation), but EPA has needlessly interpreted a more favorable volatility standard to apply only to gasoline with between 9 and 10 percent ethanol, violating the intent of Congress. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has said he will fix EPA’s discriminatory volatility regulations if the law allows, and there is no reason for delay. Second, EPA should approve an alternative certification fuel with between 25 and 30 percent ethanol. EPA has acknowledged that such a fuel would help automakers build more efficient vehicles. EPA is currently evaluating the appropriateness of its increasingly stringent greenhouse gas standards, but no matter what the standards may be in the future, midlevel ethanol blends will help automakers meet them and save drivers money at the pump. Third, EPA needs to fix its fuel economy formula to stop cheating ethanol blends. The equation’s “R-factor” was supposed to enable

apples-to-apples comparisons of fuel economy despite changes in the energy density of the test fuel. But the R-factor is based on outdated data from carbureted engines of the mid-1980s. EPA has admitted that the R-factor is inaccurate for today’s vehicles. Despite promising automakers in 2012 that it would fix this problem “in a timely manner,” it still has not done so. Fourth, EPA should also correct the fuel economy formula to recognize ethanol’s petroleum displacement effect. The point of the fuel economy program Congress enacted is to reduce petroleum consumption, and that is what ethanol blending does. Likewise, EPA should correct the greenhouse gas formula to recognize that ethanol’s tailpipe emissions are carbon neutral: They do not add to atmospheric carbon, because the only carbon ethanol releases upon combustion was taken out of the atmosphere by the corn plant from which the ethanol was made. If the oil industry were serious about lowering RIN prices, it would support these regulatory measures. But many petroleum interests benefit from high RIN prices. More fundamentally, the oil industry wants to maintain regulations that protect petroleum’s market share from competition. Ethanol is the least costly (and cleanest) high-octane fuel additive on the market. If retailers could sell more cost-effective, higher ethanol blends, drivers would burn less oil. EPA has a choice to make between opening the fuel market to competition or maintaining anticompetitive regulations that protect petroleum’s 90 percent market share. That should be an easy choice. Removing regulatory barriers to mid-level blends would further the administration’s stated policies of promoting domestic energy and American agriculture. It would also fulfill EPA’s core mission of protecting America’s air quality. Petroleumbased octane additives represent the most toxic portion of gasoline. Ethanol provides a higher octane value while reducing toxic air pollution. If EPA wants to improve air quality while promoting domestic energy, American agriculture, and the free market, the choice is clear. Author: Adam Gustafson Attorney, Boyden Gray and Associates gustafson@boydengrayassociates.com

ETHANOLPRODUCER.COM | 11


BUSINESS BRIEFS

People, Partnerships & Projects

Ron Alverson receives RFA’s 2018 Industry Award Ron Alverson, a farmer, founding member of the South Dakota Corn Growers Association and board member of Dakota Ethanol LLC, is the recipient of the RFA 2018 Industry Award. The Industry Award is given annually to individuals who demonstrate great dedication and innovation. Alverson was presented the award Feb. 13, during the 23rd Annual National Ethanol Conference. For more than 40 years, Alverson has grown corn and soybeans near Chester, South Dakota. He is a founding member and past president of the South Dakota Corn Growers Association, helped establish the corn checkoff program to create new markets and uses for corn, and helped

pass South Dakota’s first ethanol production incentive. Alverson founded Dakota Ethanol LLC, which operates a 48 MMgy ethanol plant in Wentworth, South Dakota, and is a past chairman of the American Coalition for Ethanol. Alverson also has been working to educate policymakers and industry partners about the environmental benefits of ethanol, including the ability of corn plants to sequester carbon in the soil. He is a longtime advocate of the benefits of carbon sequestration and helping to ensure accurate carbon accounting methodologies. “Ron has done more than anyone to help decisionmakers understand carbon sinks and made it his life’s mission to edu-

cate and inform anyone willing to listen on the astounding gains in efficiency that farmers have experienced in recent decades, including Alverson yield increases, improvements in tillage practices and reduced fertilizer use,” said RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen. “While some have dismissed the environmental and economic impact of carbon, Ron realizes accurate carbon accounting will be the key to future success for both farmers and ethanol. His vision is why this recognition is so deserving.”

Sylvatex, Valicor enter joint development agreement Sylvatex Inc. and Valicor Inc. have entered into a joint development agreement (JDA) that will oversee the development, construction and commercialization of Sylvatex’s MicroXTM technology, converting distillers corn oil and other plant-based oil feedstocks into renewable blendstock. The JDA also will accelerate commercialscale engineering and expedite early market sales of the MicroXTM blendstock. Sylvatex creates renewable nanoscale emulsion systems that can be used in fuels, lithium battery manufacturing and other specialty chemical applications such as food and fragrances. Sylvatex and Valicor expect to deploy the technology in partnership with ethanol

12 | ETHANOL PRODUCER MAGAZINE | APRIL 2018

producers to increase the value of coproducts and to provide diversification into other fuels and chemical markets. “This agreement marks the commencement of a long-term partnership with Valicor, a leader in conversion technologies,” said Virginia Klausmeier, CEO of Sylvatex. “Sylvatex and Valicor have enjoyed a strong collaborative relationship, advancing innovations. We look forward to expanding our partnership to create value and better utilize existing assets.” Tom Czartoski, CEO of Valicor, said, “We are excited to partner with Sylvatex, a company which shares our core values of resource repurposing and sustainability. We have been engaged in DCO process-

ing development for some time and were looking for accretive technologies that would complement our efforts. The technology synergy will exponentially increase the value of each company’s respective work and bring value to the market.”


BUSINESS BRIEFS¦

ACE elects 2018 executive committee During its first quarter meeting, the American Coalition for Ethanol board of directors elected its officers and executive committee members for 2018. Re-elected to serve as officers on the executive committee are: • Duane Kristensen, representing Chief Ethanol Fuels, which owns ethanol plants in Hastings and Lexington, Nebraska. Kristensen accepted the nomination of president of the ACE board. “It is imperative to be involved in these complex times for our industry,” Kristensen said. “ACE has done tremendous work over the past 30 years, and I look forward through this capable organization and its staff to promote and provide many more opportunities for ethanol in the future.”

• Ron Alverson, who represents Dakota Ethanol in Wentworth, South Dakota. Alverson accepted the treasurer nomination this year after serving as ACE’s board president the past five years. “Serving as chairman of ACE has been one of the greatest honors of my life,” Alverson said. “The ACE board of directors, leadership and staff are the most talented, dedicated, generous and selfless people I’ve ever had the pleasure to be associated with.” • Dave Sovereign, who represents Golden Grain Energy in Mason City, Iowa, and serves on the board of Absolute Energy. Sovereign now serves as vice president of the ACE board of directors. • Greg Krissek, who represents the Kansas Corn Growers Association, accepted the nomination of secretary.

• Troy Knecht, representing the South Dakota Corn Growers Association, operates a diversified farming enterprise in Houghton, South Dakota, in addition to serving as the president of SDCGA. Chris Wilson, general manager of 60 MMgy Mid-Missouri Energy in Malta Bend, Missouri, also was elected to ACE’s executive committee.

Dayton, Reynolds appointed to Governors’ Biofuels Coalition Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds and Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton have been appointed chair and vice chair, respectively, of the Governors’ Biofuels Coalition, a multi-state alliance aimed at providing regional leadership on biofuels policy. “We congratulate both Gov. Dayton and Gov. Reynolds on their appointments,” said Tim Rudnicki, executive director of the Minnesota Bio-Fuels Association. “Gov. Dayton’s commitment to biofuels contributed to a landmark year for E15 in Minnesota in 2017.” In 2017, Minnesota became the first state in the nation to exceed 250 E15 stations, while E15 consumption, as of Nov. 30, was 14.45 million gallons, more than double the volume sold in 2016—5.68 million gallons.

“Minnesota has long been a national leader in adding value to our farm products and supporting the development of alternative fuels,” Dayton said in a statement. “Biofuels create new markets for Minnesota corn and soybeans, protect air and water quality, and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. I look forward to working with Gov. Reynolds to advance biofuel production and support our farmers.” The increase in the number of stations offering E15, from 61 in 2016 to 252 at the end of 2017, was partly attributed to grants from the federal government and the Dayton administration for the installation of infrastructure to dispense higher blends of ethanol such as E15. With Reynolds and Dayton at the helm of the Governors’ Biofuels Coalition, Rud-

Dayton

Reynolds

nicki said, there will be more opportunities to fully realize the energy security, consumer, economic and environmental benefits of biofuels. “We need to get Reid vapor pressure parity for E15 with E10, provide some additional assistance to fuel retailers who want to dispense E15 and begin proper testing of mid-level blends of ethanol,” he said.

ETHANOLPRODUCER.COM | 13


PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT

14 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | APRIL 2018


PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT

NEW

EXPECTATIONS With the release of Innova Drive, well-known enzyme developer Novozymes has entered the yeast market for corn ethanol production. By Lisa Gibson

With its new yeast strain for corn ethanol production released earlier this year, Novozymes is trying to “reset expectations” of what yeast can do, says David Hogsett, director of biofuel yeast strain engineering for Novozymes. The well-

known enzyme developer has built a yeast platform, Innova, with the help of partner Microbiogen, and released the first strain, Drive, on Feb. 5. Kim Bertz, senior manager of bioenergy business development for Novozymes, says Innova Drive outperforms other yeast options, tolerating a higher solids content (37 percent, compared with traditional 34), higher temperatures (98 degrees Fahrenheit, compared with 94) and more organic acids. It also reduces fermentation time by up to two hours, according to the company. The cream yeast product reduces losses and raises the benchmark, Bertz says. “It’s become very efficient and stress tolerant so we see more ethanol.” Brian Brazeau, vice president of commercial biofuels for Novozymes North America, says the company developed its yeast with two main factors in mind: efficient ethanol production and tailored problem-solving. Plants operate to make up for yeast inefficiencies, he says, but Innova Drive is designed to solve those issues, allowing plants to “run how they want.” Even though Novozymes’ experience lies in producing enzymes, moving to yeast production is a natural next step, Bertz says. It’s crucial that the enzymes and

SAMPLE EXTRACTION: A Novozymes scientist takes samples during a yeast ethanol fermentation in the company's Franklinton, North Carolina, labs. PHOTO: NOVOZYMES

ETHANOLPRODUCER.COM | 15


PRODUCTION SCREENING: An automated liquid handler performs high-throughput screening of yeast to assess how well the yeast will perform in an ethanol production process.

CLOSE UP: Yeast under a microscope. PHOTO: LALLEMAND BIOFUELS & DISTILLED SPIRITS

PHOTO: NOVOZYMES

yeast work together in ethanol production, so Novozymes has the right expertise for the job, she adds. Novozymes has supplied a C5 yeast for cellulosic ethanol, but Innova Drive represents its entrance into the corn ethanol market.

Holistic Approach

In developing the Innova platform, Novozymes “leveraged the power of nature,” using natural properties of yeast through breeding and evolution to achieve

16 | ETHANOL PRODUCER MAGAZINE | APRIL 2018

optimal traits, Brazeau says, calling the tactic the holistic approach. Classical breeding allows mixing of genetic material to achieve natural traits, both primary—glucose consumption—and secondary—temperature, tolerance, etc. The platform also uses genetic engineering, to prompt the yeast to produce an advanced glucoamylase during fermentation, Hogsett says. The glucoamylase is part of Novozymes’ existing collection of starch-degrading enzymes, and the compa-

ny says it is twice as effective at converting sugar to ethanol as glucoamylases produced by other yeast options on the market. The mix of classical and genetic engineering tools helps create an optimal yeast product, Hogsett says. “We are not frozen with one or the other. We can draw very broadly on both classical and new, modern tools.” “Whatever tools we use to get there is not as important as we get there,” says Mads Torry-Smith, director of bioenergy technology development.


PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT

Essentially, Innova Drive is built from the “best of the best” yeast in the environment, Bertz says, with the addition of the enzyme. “It’s built to handle just about anything that gets thrown at it.”

Power Through

The success of yeast fermentation performance centers around the balance between the release and consumption of glucose, Hogsett says. Innova Drive’s glucoamylase, along with enzyme products

dosed in liquefaction and fermentation, assist in regulating the amount of glucose available to the yeast during fermentation. Innova products are designed for rapid, efficient starch conversion and complete fermentation of glucose to ethanol, reducing occurrence of standard issues with yeast in ethanol plants, according to Novozymes. “We’re saying you don’t have to live with those downsides,” Torry-Smith says. With a higher heat tolerance, the buffer zone is much larger and helps prevent shutdowns, he says. With a higher acid tolerance, problems can be found and fixed without stopping production. “So the yeast performs excellent on great days and never fails on worse days.” “We are super excited about the ability of this yeast to power through any upset in the plant,” Hogsett says.

Welcome Competition

Yeast that are genetically modified to express an enzyme like glucoamylase, or

that deviate from the traditional, trusted dry yeast, are not new. Lallemand Biofuels & Distilled Spirits released its first strain with both qualities back in 2012. Now in its third iteration of TransFerm, dubbed TransFerm YP3, Lallemand’s yeast products increase yield by up to 4.5 percent above traditional yeast, says Lallemand President Angus Ballard. Almost 90 ethanol producers are using the line of TransFerm products. “We’ve seen a dramatic shift in the market,” he says of the emergence of genetically modified yeast. “It’s refreshing to see that our leadership is being followed.” Lallemand knocked down the barriers to genetically modified yeast, paving the way for itself, along with competitors, Ballard says. “We had to de-risk it. It’s easy now for new guys to come in.” Jenny Forbes, yeast and antimicrobials product manager for Phibro Ethanol Performance Group, says genetic modification offers ample opportunity to optimize. “The opportunity with these genetically modified

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PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT

yeasts are endless. Yeast is an amazing organism and you really can get it to express anything.â&#x20AC;? But that modification alters robustness in the yeast strain. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Whenever you ask an organism to do something different â&#x20AC;Ś there is usually going to be a sacrifice,â&#x20AC;? she says. Still, as companies that develop yeast continue to improve their strains, the results are getting better and more robust, Forbes says, adding that development will continue and producers will see even more improvements. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The industry would like to see a very high temperature-tolerant yeast,â&#x20AC;? beyond optimization of existing tolerance, she says. â&#x20AC;&#x153;It is going to continue to change, evolve and grow.â&#x20AC;? Ballard says Lallemand comes out with an innovative yeast product every two to three years, with an eye on both increasing yield and retaining robustness. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Yield

is king. â&#x20AC;Ś Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s an increased capacity time for this industry. Higher yields generate increased profit margins for ethanol producers without the need to invest in capital. You can affect profitability without capital cost. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We welcome a new competitor into the yeast market,â&#x20AC;? Ballard says. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Competition is a good thing for the industry.â&#x20AC;? Judy Underwood, global market leader for DuPont Industrial BioSciences, agrees. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Any new entrance into this market helps customers achieve their goals.â&#x20AC;? DuPont released its first yeast strain engineered to express glucoamylase in 2013. The strain was paired with a new glucoamylase in 2016, and in 2017, the company released its newest, highest-yield product, Synerxia Thrive. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Certainly, I think everyone in this industry recognizes that both yield and robustness are important.

FOR PEAK UPTIME â&#x20AC;&#x201C; WORK WITH THE VALVE AND INSTRUMENTATION EXPERTS AT R.S. STOVER 7YLWHYPUNMVYH4HPU[LUHUJL6\[HNL& 7SHUUPUN;LTWVYHY`:[HMM:\WWVY[&-HJPUNH 4PKKSLVM[OL5PNO[,TLYNLUJ`&>LJHUOLSWÂśMHZ[  6\YOPNOS`[YHPULK]HS]LHUKH\[VTH[PVU[LJOUPJPHUZ HYLH]HPSHISLOV\YZHKH`KH`ZH^LLR[VRLLW `V\YWSHU[Y\UUPUNH[P[ZILZ[^LJHSSP[7LHR<W[PTL  *VU[HJ[\Z[VKH`H[L[OHUVS'YZZ[V]LYJVT VYJHSS[VSLHYUTVYLHIV\[ OV^9::[V]LYJHUOLSW

18 | ETHANOL PRODUCER MAGAZINE | APRIL 2018

â&#x20AC;&#x153;It really depends a lot on the customer and what their needs are,â&#x20AC;? she adds. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We focus on customers and how we can find the best tailored approach. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s certainly fine to say we have the most robust yeast, but if customers donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have problems with infections, thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not important to them.â&#x20AC;? DuPont has two strains in precommercial development now, Underwood says, but she declined to share a timeline for their release. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We want to give our customers the best possible solutions and many options. â&#x20AC;Ś More is better: more from us; more from competition. That keeps the industry thriving.â&#x20AC;?

Clean Goals

During an Ethanol Producer Magazine visit to the Novozymes labs in Franklinton and Morrisville, North Carolina, Managing Editor Lisa Gibson got a peek at the development process. The collection of microbes is held in a freezer with automated capabilities that allow a researcher to punch in codes on a keyboard to identify desired strains, while a robotic arm collects and delivers them through a sliding door. The collection, kept at temperatures below -100 degrees Fahrenheit, can house hundreds of thousands of cell banks, all available on command. Standing next to his small-scale fermentation research in another lab, Keerthi Venkataramanan, a scientist in microbial physiology, says his goal is to help develop cleaner energy technologies so he can walk around New Delhi in his lifetime without health risk from the highly polluted air. Brazeau says there is more to come on Novozymesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Innova platform, strategic development is underway and the company looks forward to releasing more strains. Author: Lisa Gibson Managing Editor, Ethanol Producer Magazine 701.738.4920 lgibson@bbiinternational.com


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GETTING BIGGER

ALL IT TAKES TO MAKE THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE IS LIMITLESS CURIOSITY AND A FEW DECADESâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; WORTH OF GOOD IDEAS.

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ETHANOLPRODUCER.COM | 21


ASSET MANAGEMENT

THE

INTEGRITY

INITIATIVE Predictive maintenance, active management and proper use of inspection results keep a plant on track. By Tim Albrecht

Asset integrity management is generally defined as an operating procedure that protects equipment and its lifespan, while considering health, safety and environmental concerns. It’s an integral part of any operation, including every ethanol plant across the country. The practice seems simple enough, and it is, according to Nathan Vander Griend, president of ERI Solutions Inc., but it needs to be routinely managed to prevent problems

22 | ETHANOL PRODUCER MAGAZINE | APRIL 2018

down the line. “It’s about making sure to keep the flammable stuff in the pipes, tanks and vessels. And making sure we’re aware when equipment needs to be replaced before it fails, or when equipment needs to be repaired or bolstered. “Asset integrity management is really just saying, as equipment ages, it’ll begin to wear out. It’s no different than as a body ages it’ll begin to wear out. ... If equipment is allowed to get to its end of life without knowing that it’s coming, it could lead to an unnecessary downtime, catastrophe or fatality,” Vander Griend says. “There could be an unexpected


ASSET MANAGEMENT

AN EYE INSIDE: An ERI Solutions Inc. employee performs a magnetic flux leakage inspection on the floor of an above-ground storage tank. PHOTO: ERI SOLUTIONS INC.

DECEMBER 2017 | Ethanol Producer Magazine | 23


ASSET MANAGEMENT

ABOVE INSPECTION: An ERI Solutions Inc. employee uses an ultrasonic thickness magnetic crawler on an above-ground storage tank. PHOTO: ERI SOLUTIONS INC.

downtime where the ethanol plant is out of business for six months while they wait for a specialty piece of equipment to be built.â&#x20AC;?

Active Management

Vander Griend says most of the ethanol industry has a pretty good handle on

what asset integrity management looks like now, but active management is commonly overlooked. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t think youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d find a plant out there that says, â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;We donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t need to do that; thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s no reason to do it.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; However, I do think youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d find several plants that have performed the required testing and inspections, but not sure exactly what they learned and their plan of action as a result.â&#x20AC;? Vander Griend likens how ethanol plants handle the inspections to going to a doctorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s office for a checkup. The doctor might prescribe a battery of tests, but the patient doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t actually look at the results to understand them. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I think we have a little bit of not quite knowing what to do with the data thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s provided as a result of the testing and inspection process. Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve built a tool we call AIM, which is a database for the ethanol industry specifically to anonymously benchmark testing and inspection data of

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assets in similar service, and actively manage their own testing and inspection data. “We’re trying to show them visually what the data means,” Vander Griend says. “Because it’s a compliance activity, sometimes that report gets filed and they say, ‘Good, we did it.’ We want to make sure it gets into actively being managed.” Dusty Turner, chief operating officer for Conestoga Energy Partners, says active management has been optimized at Conestoga’s three plants. “We looked at specific areas of the plant where we were performing preventative maintenance (PM) and found, in a lot of cases, we were doing it too frequently and not finding anything. Some areas we needed to be more thorough, and some areas we weren’t even looking at the right items and checking the right things. It’s a huge undertaking to rewrite and rework your PMs, so it’s been a work in prog-

CORROSION DETERMINATION: An inspection port serves as a thickness-monitoring location that will be periodically checked to determine corrosion and erosion rates. PHOTO: ERI SOLUTIONS INC.

ress, but it was probably one of the most beneficial things we did that first year.” About four years ago, Conestoga noticed an increase in breakdowns on equip-

ment that hadn’t broken down before, Turner says. “We were so focused, since we began in 2007, on production, efficiencies, fermentation, yield and all those kinds

ETHANOLPRODUCER.COM | 25


ASSET MANAGEMENT

Turner brought in Marshall Institute, a North Carolina-based asset management consulting firm, to work on preventative maintenance at Conestoga’s plants, focusing on total plant reliability to get the numbers in line. “In the first year, they brought in a lot of people and we failed miserably trying to execute and adopt a lot of their theories,” Turner says. “Their theories and

of things, and became accustomed to being really good firefighters. That just wasn’t cutting it. We had the production, the yield and all those things down fairly well, but we realized quick that in order to maintain the efficiencies we needed to meet, we had to do a better job of preventative maintenance, which led to more up time and less down time.”

training tools were great, but we tried to do too much, too quick. So, what we did is kind of backed up, and identified areas of our plant that were concerning and creating the most down time. We went down Marshall’s menu, if you will, and started implementing two or three things a year that would help us be more proactive and better manage our repairs.”

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26 | ETHANOL PRODUCER MAGAZINE | APRIL 2018

An active management plan makes predictive maintenance easier, monitoring equipment on a recurring basis versus performing maintenance when a problem arises. The strategy is intended to prevent unexpected equipment failures, with smaller, planned shutdowns, Turner says. “That’s where we spend 90 percent of our time.” Contestoga’s three plants had 126 hours of downtime over and above their usual shutdowns, Turner says. Of those 126 hours, 45 percent of them were outside the plants’ control, usually involving something electrical. “What we focused on is how much of that downtime was unplanned, and of that unplanned downtime, 85 percent was jobs that we knew were going to happen. We were just trying to make it through the next shutdown, but when it went down, we had all the parts. So, even though it went down, we were prepared for it and totally mitigated that amount of downtime, because of our preventative and predictive maintenance philosophy.” Some predictive maintenance involves technology and data feedback. Tech company ATEK Cos. Inc. provides services to “help the customer get their value out of predictive condition monitoring,” says Craig Truempi, director of Industrial Internet of Things Reliability at ATEK. “We essentially solve whatever problems a particular plant is having. “One of the cases we had with an ethanol plant involved a hammer mill that was losing bearings on them more often than


ASSET MANAGEMENT

they felt it should be,” Truempi says. “We deployed some vibration and ultrasonic monitoring on the hammer mill to see what was happening on the machines over a 30day period.” The ultrasonic data found that the hammer mill’s vibrations were erratic and high, signifying a lubrication problem. “They worked using the data to improve their lubrication practices and brought the ultrasonic levels back to normal, which resulted in longer life of their bearings.” Truempi says predictive maintenance has been around for a long time but what ATEK does differently is use technology to make that maintenance quicker, easier and more cost effective. “We meet with customers directly, or through our channel, and work with them to solve problems that are having a financial impact.”

Vander Griend says ERI highly recommends plants determine which equipment would render them inoperable if it were unusable. “They need to ensure they do not pigeonhole themselves into thinking OSHA’s PSM Standard tells them to only test and inspect required items. Rather, that’s the minimum and what should they test and inspect to start thinking about how

they manage process safety and reliability? It’s important to evaluate what those assets are and, if those assets fail tomorrow, could a plant make ethanol the next day.” Author: Tim Albrecht Associate Editor, Ethanol Producer Magazine 701.738.4922 talbrecht@bbiinternational.com

Regulation Changes

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s standards have made maintenance a must for the ethanol industry, but also have made some important changes to plant safety. Maintaining flammable areas is vital, Vander Griend says. “Testing and inspecting all the areas of the plant that have flammable liquids—such as distillation evaporation, dehydration, the tank farm, the loadouts, all that associated piping and equipment—are important because the flammability makes it a requirement under OSHA’s process safety management standard.” OSHA regulations didn’t affect anything at Conestoga’s plants. In fact, they’ve adapted to the changes, Turner says. “We embraced that instead of letting it deflate our safety culture, and took it a step further and focused on things that have the potential for creating unsafe conditions and behaviors. No longer do we talk about a safety reward, or safety program, or anything like that. We’ve just incorporated our safety culture within our total plant reliability.”

ETHANOLPRODUCER.COM | 27


EQUIPMENT

BITING THE BULLET ON

MAJOR

REPLACEMENTS Ten-year inspections, and sometimes outright failures, focus attention on needed capital investments in long-term assets. By Susanne Retka Schill

The ethanol industry is small enough that word travels fast. “I

believe something happened about three years ago, some failures started happening because all of a sudden my phone started blowing up from the ethanol industry,” recalls Mike Ferguson, president of Eddy Current USA. His specialty is nondestructive testing to find scaling and pitting in difficult-to-inspect tubing in condensers, heat exchangers and chillers. The biggest issue he’s seen at ethanol plants is with the 190 condenser—the system that concentrates raw ethanol vapors

28 | ETHANOL PRODUCER MAGAZINE | APRIL 2018

into liquid. He’s known of some failures, and found early indications at other plants he’s monitoring after taking baseline readings. “We can follow the problem so it doesn’t become a catastrophic failure,” he says. “There’s a good probability of protection and life extension.” And it buys a little time to budget for retubing or replacement. “I don’t think it’s the age of the facility or the equipment that dictates the degradation,” he continues. “I believe it’s mostly a factor of process controls and how hard they’re run and how good the maintenance program is. With the 190s, a lot of what I see is because of running the machine really

hard.” He adds that from his decades of experience in the chiller industry, it is helpful to do testing even when equipment is new. “My records show almost 20 percent of tubes had original defects in the tube from the manufacturer.” Ferguson compares the ethanol industry today to what he was seeing in the chiller industry 30 years ago, when it was cheaper to deal with freon leaks than to invest in testing or replacing the components at the root cause. Often, the result for the large industrial and commercial air conditioning systems was catastrophic failure. Today, he says, “everybody knows what to do. Now


EQUIPMENT

OVER THE YEARS: Condensers in distillation systems can wear quickly, after years of running hard in ethanol plants. PHOTO: JOHN BROSE

that the chiller industry has caught up and is aware, there is minimal catastrophe.” As manager of reliability services for ICM Inc., James Weber concurs with Ferguson’s observation that there’s no direct correlation between the age of a plant and what is found during inspections. “We’ve seen equipment at 12-year-old plants that looks brand new.” And, he adds, some inspections find a potential failure just weeks away, creating a big problem. “You never find out about it until the middle of a shutdown, and it could prevent you from starting up on time.”

Many places doing 10-year inspections are opening up areas that haven’t been looked at since start-up, Weber says. In some cases, better maintenance could have prevented issues, and in others, new protection measures or better technologies are available. There were early indicators of some issues, he adds, showing up as minor problems. “Standing back, asking why and looking at the root did not seem to happen as much as it should.” Weber shares his list of issues seen as plants age. The 190 condensers in distillation are on his list. Many plants are finding tube failures exceeding the 15 to 20 percent

allowable tolerance, he says. “So they’re going in and replacing those. And it’s the same with sieve vaporizers—we’re seeing tube failures there. What it’s actually from, whether it’s water quality or vibration, we don’t know yet. But we’re seeing plants looking at replacement options.” Another area seeing tube failures is in the economizers at those plants with thermal oxidizers, he says. “That, again, is a costly problem, but there are solutions in place and they can install newer and better ones, with better materials and better designs.” ETHANOLPRODUCER.COM | 29


FERM FOUNDATION: James Weber, ICM's manager of reliability services, stands on the fermentation tanks at a Colorado plant. PHOTO: ICM

Internal inspections of sieve bottles, another 10-year requirement, are finding some cracking, he continues. â&#x20AC;&#x153;These are mostly repairable, but it is something people should be aware of.â&#x20AC;? Again, the root cause hasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t been determined yet, he says. â&#x20AC;&#x153;It could be in the manufacturing of the vessel, it could be excessive vibration.â&#x20AC;?

Pipes and Tanks

The miles of piping and rows of tanks circulating material through an ethanol plant also are among the long-term assets showing signs of wear at many facilities. Slurry tanks, in particular, are starting to show fatigue, Weber says. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The original steam system in a lot of these slurry tanks causes a

lot of vibration. Thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s better equipment available today that reduces that vibration and a lot of people have done upgrades to extend the life of the tank.â&#x20AC;? Ethanol storage tanks also are on the 10-year inspection list, and some plants are finding holes or pitting of the floors. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s systems that can be installed that help reduce that,â&#x20AC;? Weber says. Clean in place (CIP) piping is showing wear in plants that were designed with carbon steel piping. It can perform well over time, Weber explains, as long as the process is maintained correctly, but in places where there was excessive heat or poorly controlled chemical dosing, the CIP pipes may need replacement. â&#x20AC;&#x153;There are plants starting to change out to stainless steel,â&#x20AC;? Weber says. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The problem is, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a lot of pipingâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; it runs all through the plant.â&#x20AC;? One strategy is to replace small chunks at a time during regularly scheduled shutdowns. Another system showing corrosion is in the gas-train piping, he says, primarily because of condensation. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a hot environment and you have cold gas coming through, so you get condensation on the lines,â&#x20AC;? Weber explains. Again, there are protection solutions that can be employed.

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30 | ETHANOL PRODUCER MAGAZINE | APRIL 2018




EQUIPMENT Two systems originating in the grains building also are on his list. “In the last couple of years, we find conveyors that haven’t been well-maintained to the point where it’s full replacement.” Not a critical system, conveyors can get overlooked, he says. “It seems to be doing fine, it’s not making noise, no bearings smell like they’re burning, so they just keep on running it.” He recommends annual inspections with the covers pulled off to check bearings and seals, making sure bolt holes aren’t getting egg shaped and causing extra movement. The bag houses filtering dust from moving grain and distillers may not have a lot of moving parts, but they are another long-term asset showing wear in some situations. “Just in the last year, we’ve seen corrosion on the inside,” Weber says. “People are having to patch the skin and look at replacement.” A lot of that, he says, is a result of conveying higher moisture DDGS in pneumatic systems.

Maturing Approach

As he stands back to think about his list of big-ticket replacement and repair items, Weber says it’s partly a function of

the rapid expansion of the industry in the mid-2000s when so many plants were operating with all-new equipment and so many maintenance teams were new to ethanol plants, and often to industrial maintenance altogether. In some cases, a farmer mentality prevailed, he says. “You fix it when it’s broken and if you can tape it back together to run another six months, you tape it back together. That doesn’t necessarily work in a facility of this size, especially with what you’re trying to do with it.” It’s come a long way, he adds. “I think everyone at the plants, from maintenance guys up through the board members are starting to understand what is truly the maintenance cost and how much money they need to set aside for capital improvements or general maintenance of larger pieces of equipment,” he says. “Just the equipment alone is $100,000-plus, which is a hard pill to swallow. But knowing they got 10 years of life out of the original piece helps. And they’re all starting to understand they’re not the only ones having to do this higher dollar maintenance and replacement.” Making that major capital expenditure

is not an easy decision. Bob Jewell, energy systems chief at Chippewa Valley Ethanol Co., recalls the plant’s experience before replacing the cooling tower at the 20-year mark. “We realized the issue long before we replaced the cooling tower—but that was several million dollars versus a couple hundred thousand to replace a condenser.” The plant was also replacing heat exchangers. “Those failures were directly related to the cooling tower,” he says. “After we bit that bullet and replaced the cooling tower, it was really an eye opener.” In addition to solving the cooling system issues, he says, “We experienced quite an increase in production.” Jewell recommends the ethanol industry leverage the experience of others— not just among ethanol peers, but outside, pointing to his area in the energy sector. “The power production industry is relatively old and they’ve learned a lot of lessons. Some of that experience is transferrable to us.” Author: Susanne Retka Schill Freelance journalist retkaschill@yahoo.com

ETHANOLPRODUCER.COM | 31


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CenturyLink Center Omaha, Omaha, NE PRODUCER MAGAZINE | APRIL 2018 32 | ETHANOL FuelEthanolWorkshop.com


AGENDA ONLINE @ FuelEthanolWorkshop.com WHERE PRODUCERS MEET

What Last Yearâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Attendees Said...

Statistics at a Glance FEW 2017

2,111 Attendees

535 producers

â&#x20AC;&#x153;As a first-time exhibitor at the FEW Expo, I was blown away by the quality of fellow-exhibitors and attendees. The expo hall energy was high and everyone I spoke with was excited about what was happening at the show.â&#x20AC;?

Ethanol, Biodiesel, Advanced Biofuels, or Cellulosic

// Nehemiah White, Air Pro Fan & Blower Company

270 General Attendees

â&#x20AC;&#x153;If you think you know everything that is Ethanol, visit the next FEW and I assure you you will leave there in awe of the things you didn't know were possible.â&#x20AC;?

152 Speakers & Plenary Attendees

// Jody Hamilton, Show Me Ethanol, LLC â&#x20AC;&#x153;The conference is a great place to connect with people who work in every aspect of the ethanol industry. Sometimes you find things you didn't even know you needed until they're right in front of youâ&#x20AC;? // Julianne Rutenbeck, Archer Daniels Midland â&#x20AC;&#x153;Having attended 32 of the 33 FEWs, I believe it remains the foremost conference at which to make industry contacts and gain a vision into the ethanol industry's future.â&#x20AC;? // Larry Johnson, LLJ Consulting & Business

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ETHANOLPRODUCER.COM | 33


CLEANING TECHNOLOGIES

Cleanliness is

QUALITY

Ignoring proper bin maintenance, such as cleaning and full material removal, reduces storage capacity and product quality. By Tim Albrecht

Bridging, plugging, buildup, chaffing, funneling, doming, etc. They’re all common problems in grain and DDGS storage silos. Maintaining those silos is an

important step in ensuring plants are getting full efficiency from their materials, says Dan Bruenderman, project manager/engineer for Mole Master Services Corp. “What we’ve found early on, with the ethanol industry especially, is most plants

34 | ETHANOL PRODUCER MAGAZINE | APRIL 2018

basically ignored those bins at startup and went several years before they addressed the issue. Once they realized what kind of severe problem they were having, it reduced storage capacity in those bins and the product quality. They figured out they needed to maintain those bins just like any other piece of equipment they maintain.” Mole Master specializes in cleaning of silos and equipment, also offering ancillary services such as water blasting, vacuum services, media blasting, carbon dioxide

blasting and dry ice blasting, Bruenderman says. “We provide both the service and the equipment for plants to do it themselves, as well.” The company’s main service, the Big Mole System, negates the need for human entry into silos, making cleanup safer and more efficient. The Big Mole System uses a dry process, eliminating water damage to the material or facility during the service, and preventing expensive cleanup. The Big Mole System uses air to break loose hardened material stuck in bins, aerating and


IN THE DARK: A Laidig Model 698 track drive reclaimer removes material from the bottom of a bin. The 698 is used in the majority of Laidig’s work for the ethanol industry. PHOTO: LAIDIG SYSTEMS INC.

moving material to allow flow to the discharge point, Bruenderman says. Mole Master breaks cleaning projects into three categories based on difficulty: low, medium and high. About 60 percent of projects fall into the medium degree of difficulty category, with the other 40 percent split evenly between low and high degrees, he says. “There are projects that are fairly simple and straight forward, which we can just make a phone call to the customer, under-

stand their situation and provide a solution. Other times, there is quite a bit of involvement where site visits are required so we can get a good understanding of the scope of the problem. It can be a difficult solution at times.” According to Bruenderman, a variety of reasons dictate difficulty level, including design of the storage vessel, layout of the plant, weather conditions and material. “Moisture intrusion can turn flowable material into a solid mass,” he says. “Add in

freezing or extremely hot factors and normally flowable material turns into rock hard material that may require the use of our Safe-T-Shot Co2 blasting system to break it up into chunks small enough to discharge.” Seneca Companies Inc. has been doing a lot of bin cleaning—both grain and DDGS—recently, as a result of maintenance issues in some of the plants it services, says Chris Biellier, vice president of the environmental and waste solutions division at Seneca. “What we’re seeing with bin ETHANOLPRODUCER.COM | 35


CLEANING TECHNOLOGIES The process for water blasting can vary depending on the plant and the level of the problem, but Seneca maintains a constant line of communication with the plant to fit its specific needs and timeframe, Biellier says. “We’ll go look at the particular areas a plant may want cleaned, especially if it isn’t a plant we’ve worked with before. Then we’ll work with the plant in identifying a timeline to get it done, the number of people necessary to perform the work, and whether it will be a 24-hour per day job with multiple shifts or getting as much done as they would like in a single shift. Each plant is going to be unique.” HEAVY DUTY HYDRO: A Seneca Hydro Blasting semi unit sits outside an ethanol plant. PHOTO: SENECA COMPANIES INC.

cleaning is either the plant’s delivery system is broken down and they have bridged corn within it, or in order to make some of the mechanical repairs, they need to get the material out of the vessel. This could be for a variety of reasons, such as materials being too dry or wet.” The company offers spill response, scheduled and nonscheduled shutdown maintenance, and cleaning. “That maintenance includes any component of the plant that requires cleaning, water blasting, grain

bin cleaning, elevator pit cleaning and dry ice blasting.” Seneca predominately performs water blasting at plants, but services vary at some plants depending on the type of shutdown in place. “It depends on if they’re doing a full shutdown or smaller component shutdowns,” Biellier says. “We’re seeing that the industry is trying to maximize the productivity of their plants with partial shutdowns, so we may just go out and clean up evaporators only.”

Silo Reclaimer

Primary to keeping a silo clean is ensuring efficient removal of all materials stored inside. “In any storage vessel, distillers dried grains can get sticky and hard, and if it’s allowed to sit for a long time it can create bridging problems,” says Mike Schuster, vice president of sales at Laidig Systems Inc. Laidig offers a custom-engineered system to reclaim materials from the bottoms of silos. “Our solution is very niche. It’s called a silo reclaimer. Our reclaim device is an auger that rotates 360 degrees around the bottom of a silo. It’s installed in concrete in

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WINBCO TANK “On Line On Time”

SAFE SILOS: No one needs to enter a silo to clean it when using Mole Master’s Junior 360-degree Whip Machine and Arch Master Portable Auger System. PHOTO: MOLE MASTER SERVICES CORP.

the bottom of the silo and the auger assists in unloading the distillers dried grains. “We’re always trying to achieve a firstin, first-out inventory pattern where the stuff on the bottom is the first to go out.” A track drive reclaimer is used for bins with diameters of 55 feet or larger. It’s a more robust system, Schuster says, supported around the exterior by a track that’s mounted to the concrete floor, for full support during the 360-degree swipes. “If you don’t have a Laidig or something that’s really aggressive in the bottom of the silo to get that material out, you can have problems.”

Adherence to Maintenance

Biellier says Seneca’s cleaning services are performed routinely, as well as when incidents arise. “I would say it’s 50-50,” he says. “Some of the places we work at is routine maintenance scheduled months in advance. The other half of our customers use it on an as-needed basis, which can

occur throughout the year as the plant operates. They may have a breakdown and make immediate repairs to allow them to run at optimum efficiency.” Conversely, Bruenderman says Mole Master’s specialized bin cleaning work is done mostly on a routine basis when shutdowns are scheduled. “There’s a lot of plants that really adhere to a maintenance program with their bins now. … If they become aware there is a problem, that’s when they call us in. Kind of a ‘if it’s not broke don’t fix it’ type of attitude. “What we found is those plants that actively manage their bins and maintain them, it becomes a less difficult project and subsequently costs a lot less to take care of.” Author: Tim Albrecht Associate Editor, Ethanol Producer Magazine 701.738.4922 talbrecht@bbiinternational.com

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2018 April Ethanol Producer Magazine  

The Maintenance/Asset Management Issue PLUS: Cleaning Services/Technologies

2018 April Ethanol Producer Magazine  

The Maintenance/Asset Management Issue PLUS: Cleaning Services/Technologies